Wellness and Recovery Through Work

October is observed as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

When we think of disabilities, we often forget the invisible disabilities, such as mental health illness and substance use disorders. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are all considered disabilities. When individuals with disabilities find employment, we can build connection and boost positive change in our community.

North Range Behavioral Health’s Supported Employment through Individual Placement and Support (IPS) program focuses on wellness and recovery through employment. Integrated with treatment provided by North Range, this no-cost service helps individuals with mental illness and/or substance use disorders find meaningful, lasting work to enhance recovery.

IPS team members assist people living with mental illness or recovering from substance use disorders by helping them seek employment. They meet to discuss their interests, goals, and ideal employment situation. With this person-centered philosophy, the individual determines their own recovery path through fulfilling and sustained employment.

In the world of behavioral health, protective factors are things that help people with disabilities, both visible and invisible, lead healthy, productive lives.

Jobseekers will never hear, “you are not ready for a job.” which individuals with mental illness often hear. One of the core pillars of IPS is the principle of zero exclusion, meaning no one is excluded from these services. If you are involved with North Range Behavioral Health or the Frontier House and you ask for support in seeking employment, you are eligible for assistance from the IPS program.

In addition to connecting jobseekers with employers, IPS can also help individuals navigate education opportunities. Whether it is a GED, associate, bachelors, or masters degree, or professional certification, the IPS team knows that education can help lead to employment and professional advancement.

“IPS helps people bring out the best in themselves. When you’re dealing with unseen disabilities, it is difficult to break the barriers, even with your own self-esteem or self-worth. IPS helps break down those barriers and then continue to build you up by helping with education and finding a job.”

- Kendra, IPS Client, Grants and Contracts Administrator at United Way

IPS builds relationships with employers and searches our community for job openings through a ‘boots on the ground’ approach. They learn the needs of the business and determine whether IPS has any jobseekers who would be a good fit. For instance, if a jobseeker would like to work in food service, IPS will find restaurants in town who are hiring and set up a meeting to see if this opportunity would be a beneficial match for both parties.

Barista coworkers high-fiving

“If more people were willing to open their doors to IPS, we can build a stronger community,”

- Angel, hiring manager at Taco Johns

Reasons employers partner with IPS:

  1. Hiring efforts, employment services, and employee supports are provided at no-cost to the business.
  2. A business’s needs are matched with qualified and motivated candidates who possess traits and skills that fit the work environment.
  3. Businesses are connected to applicants who are eager to work at a job that aligns with their goals.
  4. Employers and the new hire receive ongoing support from the IPS team throughout the duration of the employment relationship.
  5. Employers can receive business tax credits for employing people with invisible disabilities who are underrepresented in the work force.

Because of the extra support provided, employers may find themselves wishing they had an IPS team member for more of their positions. If a jobseeker’s responsibilities change, the IPS team will be there to provide an extra layer of assistance to help them acclimate. This takes the transition off of the hiring manager’s plate. Angel, hiring manager at Taco Johns says, “I can message the IPS team, ‘What can I do to ensure my employee’s success?’ and with their guidance, we are able to build a strong team made up of diverse individuals.”

If you are interested in becoming an IPS employer:

If you are interested in becoming an IPS employer, email IPSInfo@NorthRange with your name, the name of your business/ organization, and what positions you are hiring.

How community can get involved:

If you are not a hiring manager or business owner but would still like to support the IPS program, you can donate to IPS to support the operating budget. Donating to IPS helps the program buy proper supplies for job seekers to remove barriers, such as appropriate work clothes, bus passes, textbooks, etc... If you would like to donate to IPS, you can do so here (please denote “IPS” in the message box).

IPS is a program that takes a village.

Employing people with disabilities is a step forward to a diverse workplace. This can bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to make a business more inclusive of all, leading to a stronger community. “Because of IPS, I believe in myself a lot more, I have become more independent and improved my social skills. I take pride in my work,” says Nancy, an employee at Taco Johns who receives IPS support. Through meaningful work experience, we can help those with invisible disabilities find sustained recovery. Employment and education opportunities lead to a stronger Weld County.

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